Most companies choose to do annual reviews at the end of the year or at the beginning of the year. Unfortunately, the time leading up to these annual reviews also intersects with a lot of holidays. So, how do you step up your productivity before your annual review while keeping the paid time off you’re taking and the holidays in mind? Try one or more of these 8 strategies!
1. Plan Backwards: If you know when your annual review will be (or you can approximate based on your previous experience or your coworker’s previous experience), mark that date on your calendar. Then, plan your productivity backwards to ensure you’re reaching certain goals and metrics that you need to hit to impress your bosses. This is a great strategy for planning any long term project’s progress and using it before your annual review will help you set clear accomplishment goals and benchmarks that you can then discuss in your annual review. Additionally, this strategy is a great way to factor in the paid time off you’re taking or the holidays and see how that affects your progress timeline.
2. Set Specific, Measurable Goals that Will Impress: Once you have all of your projects planned backwards, give yourself a mini review of your progress and achievements this year. Make note of any holes, disappointments, or areas lacking in progress. Then, you’ll be able to set specific, measurable goals for the time you have left before your review. This will help you turn the tides if you’re anticipating a negative review or impress your bosses further. Remember to temper your expectations, though, and set realistic goals for what you can achieve in a few short weeks.
3. Find an Accountability Buddy: One of the best ways to stay productive despite the usual holiday slump is to find a work buddy to keep you accountable. This can be someone you work with directly, someone in a different department, or someone in your professional network who is anticipating their own upcoming annual review. Share your goals with them and set regular times to check in on your mutual progress towards those goals. Knowing you have someone to report to and someone keeping you accountable will help you stay focused when you feel like slacking off.
4. Use Holiday Parties and Celebrations as Rewards for a Job Well Done: One great method for staying productive or working towards goals is to offer yourself a reward at the end, something you’re truly looking forward to that feels like a celebration. And, at this time of year, there are plenty of holiday parties and celebrations to look forward to! Use these events as rewards for a job well done. Set measurable goals that need to be accomplished before these parties or events and the anticipation will keep you motivated, productive, and focused.
5. Take Meaningful Breaks: When you’re working a little harder to stay productive, make progress, and reach your goals before your annual review, you may be tempted to skip breaks altogether. However, countless research has proven that meaningful, regular breaks are essential if you want to be productive throughout the workday. While you may not be able to take a ten minute break every hour—which is recommended if you want to reach optimal productivity and focus—you can take a few short breaks throughout the day. To make these breaks more meaningful, take a walk on your break, socialize on your break, meditate on your break, or spend your break outside of your normal workspace.
6. Balance Reduced Hours With Extra Hours: The holiday season brings a lot of reduced hours, days off, and parties during the workday. If you want to stay as productive as you are the rest of the year, you can balance these reduced hours by putting in an equal amount of extra hours before work, after work, or on the weekends. This won’t be necessary if you have a reduced workload this time of year but, if you’re attempting to reach certain goals before your annual review, these extra hours could be exactly what you need.
7. Set Up Sprints to the Finish Line: The finish line—or the date of your actual review—will be here before you know it. Set up short bursts or sprints where you can isolate, focus, and get a lot of meaningful work done before you reach the finish line. Additionally, you should set aside a time close to the finish line to prepare for your annual review. Know what accomplishments you want to bring up, what progress you want to make sure your boss knows you’ve made, and any other talking points you think will be essential in your annual review. Going in focused and prepared can help you get a better raise or make a lasting positive impression and these sprints will help you prepare!
8. Plan for the Year Ahead: A lot of offices slow down this time of year. With so many people taking time off, there’s typically less work to do. If you want to stay productive but don’t have a ton of work on your plate, get busy planning the year ahead! Set goals for yourself, find skills you want to develop in the new year, or even spend time updating your 5-year career plan. This will help you stay focused on your work and productive despite the reduced workload and you’ll use your extra time wisely.
Your annual review and the holiday season are on the horizon. Plan for both and step up your productivity using these 8 simple strategies. This will help you stay focused on success at work while enjoying the holiday season and you’ll feel more prepared than ever for a great annual review.